THE new £24 million state-of-the-art St Ambrose College has been officially opened.

Headmaster Michael Thompson said the building was designed to “transform education” for the 21st century and said the aim was to create a facility that was a cross between a university and a hotel.

He said: “If boys feel it’s like a university you raise the game then and they’ll behave differently and have a different approach to their work.”

Most of the cost - £22 million - was paid for by central government and the remaining £2 million was generated thanks to the generosity of parents of the pupils. The £2 million was spent on improving sports facilities - includng the building of a swimming pool.

Mr Thompson said the old St Ambrose was built to accommodate a maximum of 400 pupils at the end of the war and the new college gives the 950 youngsters a chance to learn in far more spacious surroundings.

He said the open design of the classrooms has improved boys’ behaviour. Mr Thompson also added that the urge to do things differently didn’t stop at the design of the building.

He said: “In the classrooms, instead of having blackboards and white boards we’ve got podcasting cameras. A teacher can record a lesson and instead of writing notes boys take the lesson home on a podcast on their phones. Which is quite a new way of looking at how you transform education.”

Damian Hinds, the Conservative MP for East Hampshire, attended the St Ambrose senior school between 1980 and 1987 and he desctibed the new building as “amazing.”

He said: “People talk about transformational buildings but this is a completely different way of thinking what a school is and what it would look like and feel like and so on.”

The 42-year-old said he’s one of three Ambrose old boys in Parliament. The others are Paul Maynard and Gregory Mulholland.

Subs - 3 pics by Richard in Gallery Code - r1241100 - Students Patrick Hatchman, Matthew Trainor, headmaster Michael Thompson and MP Damian Hinds and head of politics David Lindsay.